Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

Almost There–YOU CAN DO IT!

Yeah, go flip some tires and stand precariously on the edge of a building! Sweat a lot or…

Wait, no, that’s not right. Oh yeah, FINISH THAT NOVEL! You’re so close, you can do it! Or maybe you’re not close, but that’s no reason to give up on yourself!

Because finishing something, even if it’s not everything, is sometimes enough. DO IT. Sit down, turn off the internet, and cross that finish line!

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November 26, 2015 · 9:30 am

Happy Thanksgiving: Get Stuffed!

Be thankful for your many blessings this year, enjoy time with family and friends, stuff your face with food… and then get back to writing, you loons, NaNoWriMo is almost over! Take a plate of that turkey and lock yourself in a bedroom until you finish your novel! Go go go!

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November 24, 2015 · 9:20 am

What is NaNoWriMo and Why Should I Care?


What: NaNoWriMo is a crazy mnemonic for National Novel Writing Month. The challenge: Write 50,000 words (about a novella or a short novel) in 30 days.

Why: Because why not? Because a lot of people say they want to write a book but never actually sit down and do it. Because it’s fun? Because it’s a great way to motivate yourself when you know a lot of other people are all striving for the same goal. Because it’s exciting to challenge yourself to stretch beyond your everyday expectations to see if you can rise above the dreck and do something amazing. Because sometimes NaNoWriMo authors go on to become published, or even wildly successful.

Who: Anyone who wants to. Maybe YOU!

When: THIS MONTH! RIGHT NOW, get on it!

How: A) Sign up at http://nanowrimo.org/dashboard. Or don’t, it’s up to you. Then, sit down and write a novel in the method of your choosing. It really is that easy (and that hard).

My personal NaNo experiences have all be wonderful. Largely exhausting, but wonderful. My first novel, Alt.World, grew out of my time in NaNoWriMo, first as the 30-day writing challenge (which I then finished over the next few months), then the next year I used NaNo as motivation to sit down and actually edit the whole thing and refine it, in a little personal NaNo challenge. Then I wrote my book Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny, which was a lot of fun and now can be bought as an actual, real book (or ebook). I don’t know that I would have committed to it without something like NaNo pushing me to reach the challenge. So for three years running I met my goals and “won” the challenge. I took last year off because of a death in the family, but I’ve been waiting for this all year. I’m pretty pumped. It’s the one month of the year that I really protect my writing time above all else, saying, “Ok, world, I’ll be back in a month, but this? This is my time.” A

It really does just come down to that: I make a promise, and I do it. I hope you will, too.

Wanna swap NaNo stories? How’re you staying focused this year?


Filed under writing

“I’ve Got This Great Idea for a Book…”

I’ve written about this before, but with National Novel Writing Month breathing down our necks, now seems like a good refresher. Plus I’m annoyed.

Don't Let Your Dreams Be Dreams Shia LeBeouf

This time, Shia is right.

The title of this post is “I’ve got this great idea for a book…” because that phrase inevitably comes from someone who may indeed have a good idea but who has exactly zero motivation to actually sit down and write a book.

Writing a book is hard. There are a lot of things to distract you. You may sit down with good intentions, only to see the internet and get completely sidetracked; it’s easy to lose hours surfing, stalking ex-boyfriends, or watching videos. Or you sit down and feel like your ideas have evaporated. Or you sit down and write but then you hate it. I tend to sit down and immediately notice how messy my house is and get an overwhelming urge to clean.

I get it. Writing a book is hard and time-consuming.

But it’s also easy. I mean, writing a book is mostly consistency. It’s showing up and committing to put words down on paper (digital or physical) and doing that over and over and over again.

So if you have a “great idea,” there aren’t that many initial steps to turning that great idea into a book.

Great idea + consistency x time = book

Heck, recent successes show the writing doesn’t even have to be that stupendous!

I met someone awhile back who had a killer idea for a nonfiction book. I mean, it was exciting. She’d done the initial research and was clearly passionate about it. She had a thorough outline. She asked my advice as an editor and I told her the direction looked fantastic.

And then… well, that was 9 months ago, and she hasn’t gotten around to actually writing a single word. She got sidetracked with making a marketing plan–and it was a good marketing plan, even if it completely ignored the fact that you can’t sell an unwritten book–and never actually sat down to do the work. So that great idea? Totally worthless.

It’s frustrating. But that’s why I like events like NaNoWriMo. It’s no excuses time. It’s “don’t let your dreams be dreams” time. It’s sit down, shut up, and produce time.

Take you great idea and wrestle it into reality. As Nike says, Just Do It.


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Will You NaNoWriMo?

I’m an ardent fan of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The website and community offers an incredible motivation to writers of all kinds to stop talking about writing a novel and just sitting down and actually doing it. I love getting their pep talks in my inbox (here’s one of my absolute favorites, from Lemony Snicket), I love the word count tools to track my progress, and I love the way it gets everyone excited about writing!

But…I’m not sure I can participate this year. I’ve competed as a writer twice, and one year used the motivation as incentive to finish editing a novel that had been collecting dust. I’m so proud of those finished works, even while I figure out what to do next in publishing them. But I’ve got more of “real life” on my plate this year, between work things, family things, editing projects, and trying to keep myself in balance. I’m not sure I can push any of those other things off, to wait for a month, like I’ve been able to in the past.

I’m not going to step away from NaNo completely; like I said, I love it to bits and I think it provides more motivation in a month than I can generate in a year. So I’m going to try to compromise: I won’t officially take on the challenge this year, but I am going to try to use my spare time well, writing what I can when I’m able and otherwise trying to push forward on Undead Rising.

Because, even though I forget sometimes, NaNoWriMo isn’t the only time I can write a novel. I can write all year: I just have to make it a priority.

Will you be participating this year? What are your obstacles and how will you try to overcome or manage them?


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Whatever You Do, Don’t Push ‘Publish’

You’ve finished NaNoWriMo! You’ve completed a whole book in a month! You are seriously hot stuff! Go get a cookie. No wait, get two. You’ve earned it, kiddo.

“But wait,” you’re saying, “I’m busy right now. I was just about to publi–”


Don’t push that button.

This post was originally going to be called “Advice to Past-Me,” because I have SO been there — and still step over there when the flights of fancy get a bit giddy — but I realized this feeling probably applies to a lot of people coming down off that writing euphoria.

I know the feeling, believe me I do. You have just written the most amazing piece of writing the world has ever known. You are going to be so famous. Your book is like the lovechild of J K Rowling, Isaac Asimov, and all the best parts of your favorite movies. It’s gonna be so big, you guys.

Coming down off that writing high is exactly like being a 15-year-old who just had a first date and held hands for the first time. OMG! That was, like, the best ever! Your heart is all fluttery and it feels like it must burst if you don’t show the world RIGHT NOW because this is your moment and you owned it and nobody understands.

But I beg you: Don’t publish right away.

You may be right. I hope you are! I hope your book really is the next best thing. But if it is, then it won’t be hurt by what I’m going to recommend, and it might save you from the pain of rejection.

The first thing you should do? Walk away from your work for a month, minimum. Go on, you’ve earned the break! And if you still want to keep writing, go do something else. NOT a sequel or whatever. Just something totally different.

After that month, gently crack open your manuscript again, give it a read. It may not look as shiny as it did when you put it down; that’s ok, just do some edits, put in the work. If it does look amazing, first of all, you are a lucky duck. Second, get another opinion. It can be the opinion of your mom or your husband or your kid or your neighbor down the hall, but do tell them to be honest with you.

They’re not going to be honest with you. They’re going to try to be nice to you. But they might try to gently tell you they didn’t “love love” that one little teensy part. This will feel like ultimate betrayal, but this is what you need. Go work on that part.

Then, share your work with someone else, someone less close to you, if you can. Someone who can more reliably destroy your feelings for the sake of good work. (Warning: these people are often hard to get to actually read the danged thing). Take it to a critique group, if you have one.

This is going to feel like someone is stepping on your heart, crushing it into jello. But that’s okay. Your work will be better for it.

Then get your work edited, by someone who is not you. If you are exceptionally lucky, you know someone who is gifted in this area who will do it for free, but these people are special snowflakes, so don’t be discouraged if you need to pay for it. In fact, I don’t trust any unpaid editors, personally. If your work really is the best thing ever, you want it to shine! Stories with typos do not shine, as a rule. Put your money where your mouth is!

(If you don’t know where to find an editor, start Googling. I like Writer.ly. I also happen to be a copy editor, and editing is one of the things I love to do… )

Now, after you have gotten your manuscript reviewed a few times and it’s edited, now maybe it really is the best work ever.

It’s also probably been at least six months since you finished writing it. Maybe it’s a year. But that’s okay! A novel is not a mayfly, emerging whole overnight. It’s an ant colony; it takes time and coordination and help to build it up into something incredible.

Now… now you can publish. Or you can start the process of contacting agents and trying to be traditionally published.

I know that all might sound mean and/or out of touch, because that initial excitement is SO heady. Don’t lose that excitement, but do try to put it in its correct context. That’s really hard to do, particularly when it’s your first rodeo. Slow your roll, new writer. It is more rewarding then publishing prematurely and facing the barrage of poor reviews.

Don’t do it. Not yet, anyway.


Filed under Editing, Publishing

NaNoWriMo: Winning!


Or, more correctly, won.

WOO! Third year winner!

To celebrate, I donated to the Office of Letters and Light to keep NaNoWriMo happenin’. You can too.

Dance party time.


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I Fail at NaNoWriMo Meet-Ups

“Woman Writing” by Pablo Picasso. Yeah, that’s pretty much it.

Some people swear by the contact high they get from attending meet-ups during NaNoWriMo. Some of the stories about it on the NaNo site are really inspirational, about how connecting with other writers tackling the same incredible feat you are is so great and amazing.

I spend most of my writing time either at my desk or on my couch — even a coffee shop is too distracting to let me really get into flow with my writing sometimes, particularly when I’m struggling with a section and ohhai shiny objects!
But I kept reading about how great it was and I do want to make more writing-inclined friends and that sounds awesome! So I went to one last year.
It was fun. The organizer had candy and treats — I still have my DFWWrimo Rhino in a Place of Honor. She further had a grab-bag of writing prompts every few minutes to get us moving. And there was a big group there.
But I got almost no writing done in the two hours I was there. Actually, I felt incredibly self-conscious of my writing, because… well, I was serious about it.
{insert srs busns image}
 And while I won a prize for writing 500 words the fastest (yay typing a whole helluva lot!), I actually felt bad about winning because I felt singled out — oh, well, you write for a living, so yeah.” 😦
I realize this is probably a problem I have more than a reflection on any of the nice people I met, but I wrote for two hours and then had a deficit, so I had to catch up over the next few days, and that upset me. I didn’t find it invigorating; I’m powered by the deadline pressure and the ideas finally coursing through my hands and into my keyboard. Plus I was stressed the whole time because I was afraid someone was going to spill their drink on my Very Expensive Laptop.
So I sort of fail at NaNoWriMo meet-ups. And that makes me sad. But I’ll be writing this years’ novel from my couch, in my PJs. Sorry, guys.
What’s your writing-marathon strategy?


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Smooth Sailing Ahead

Thanks to all those who participated in my NaNoWriMo poll!

I got a range of votes, including the excellent write-in for “goblins” (really great idea!), but one thing really surprised me: The option “Don’t write a sequel to the book you haven’t sold yet.” got 0% of the votes.

I have a confession: That was really the question I was struggling to answer. My first book, Undead Rising, is still out with an agent. It’s been six months; I’m sending her an email next week to let her know I’m going to start sending it to other people. Everyone who has read that book has LOVED it, but the non-responses I’ve gotten from agents were deeply dispiriting, and I felt like maybe it wasn’t a good enough idea.

But everybody thought it was a good idea to keep writing gamebooks/interactive novels/monster stories. I’m floored, and uplifted (is that a contradiction? I don’t care.).

I’m grateful so many folks weighed in.

The winner: Pirates!
Which is super, because that’s a really ripe genre I can rob, and let’s be honest, I need a lot of material from which to plunder.

(Plunder. See what I did there? Brace for a whole passel of puns in this book, my friends!)

Yo-ho-ho, away we go!



Filed under Publishing, writing

It’s That Time Again: NaNoWriMo!

Tomorrow begins writers’ best/worst month: National Novel Writing Month!

For those who haven’t ever heard of this wonderful thing, NaNoWriMo is 30 days of intense writing, with the goal of writing a complete 50,000 word novel. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t even have to be good — it just has to be done.
This is the writers’ version of a marathon, and I’m completely addicted. I’ve written the bulk of both of my novels during NaNoWriMo and find it incredibly invigorating to plow into my writing with a hard deadline. (I’m addicted to the deadline rush. It’s the most motivating thing to me).
It’s free to join, and you don’t have to do anything, but if you want, you can donate, buy a cool t-shirt, attend meet-ups, and, of course, write a novel!
I’ll be posting my word counts and information as we go. If you have ever thought “I could totally write a book if I only had the time,” NaNoWriMo is a fantastic method to MAKE time. If you are diligent about writing every day, it only means about 1,670 words per day. Just DO IT. It’s a kick!


Filed under writing